How To Train Like A "Master" Boxer
HOW TO TRAIN LIKE A "MASTER" BOXER WITHOUT LOSING YOUR EDGE
*NOTE: Consult your doctor before engaging in any workout routine.
Getting old is inevitable. Time flies so fast that before you know it, you are no longer that young boxer who can train day after day. You are not that young amateur fighting in the Elite Division (age 19-40 with at least 20 bouts). You have now graduated to the Master's division (Age 35 and above) where heavier gloves are used and rounds are shorter. The soreness you felt in your younger days seems to last unusually longer the older you get. Sparring multiple rounds gets a little tougher and the shots you absorbed in the past seem to hurt a little more. You start saying to yourself, "Am I done? Should I just stop boxing."
When these thoughts start creeping in, most people quit. If you have a legitimate medical condition or injury that prevents from continuing the sweet science, then yes, it is time to hang them up. But age does not have to be the determining factor in deciding whether or not to continue to box. Sure, you cannot train as long or as hard as you did when you were nineteen years old. But that does not mean you cannot reassess and train effectively. As they say in the Marine Corps, you must "Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome." Here are some training tips and recommendations that may help you when you become a "Master" boxer.
HIIT over DISTANCE
According to Hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach "...nothing takes the place of pounding that pavement." We are taught at a young age to run three, five, ten miles stretches on the road to get in shape for a fight. Unfortunately, running long distances causes a lot of wear and tear on the body. Shin splints, sprained ankles, sore knees, Illiotibial (IT) band syndrome (injuries I have sustained), and countless other ailments are almost guaranteed to occur. Not only is long distance running very time consuming, it actually may not be as effective getting you in fighting shape as high intensity interval training (HIIT).
According to Exercise Physiologist for the American Council on Exercise Pete McCall, HIIT is defined as, "...repeated bouts of short duration, high-intensity exercise intervals intermingled with periods of lower intensity intervals of active recovery." You conduct a high intensity, heart pounding workout for a short amount of time and then tone down the intensity while "actively" resting.
I use this exercise routine on the treadmill mimicking the intensity level of a boxing match. I warm up for five minutes jogging on the treadmill then ramp it up for 2-3 minutes of sprinting. I then tone down the intensity by going back to a slow jog for one minute, actively resting. I then repeat the same process for a few more rounds and then finish up with a cool down for five minutes at the end of my workout. Not only only is this routine time efficient, it is actually more beneficial than long distance jogging. According to Ph.D. professor at the University of New Mexico- Albuquerque, Len Kravitz, "HIIT causes the body to burn calories at an elevated rate post-exercise. This training effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC allows you to continually burn fat at a faster rate because your body will be working harder -- even when you're done working out." Jogging does not do that.
One last surprising fact about integrating HIIT sprinting is that sprinting is actually better for your bones the older you get. According to a study published by in Osteoporosis international, "...sprinters had significantly higher bone density in their legs, hips, spine and trunk than the distance runners. To be sure, the distance runners' bone density was the same or higher than average for their age, but not nearly as great as that of the sprinters." HIIT is time efficient, you achieve better results, and is healthier for your bones while getting in killer shape. Sign me up coach!
JUMP IN THE POOL
The pool is an excellent full body, cardiovascular, and aerobic workout. The pool is also one of the safest workouts you can do to preserve the body. Pool work can be integrated in your boxing workouts instead of the continuous pounding of the joints from running and jump roping. The pool elevates your bone and muscular strength while improving your endurance. All things that are essential in the boxing. You can integrate sprinting, swimming, and even shadow boxing underwater. Since water offers twelve times the resistance than air, hand speed may improve than always shadow boxing in the gym. Boxing is now catching up to this fact and it is great seeing boxing greats like Bernard Hopkins, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and countless other boxers integrating the pool in training camp. So swap them running shoes for a swim cap and goggles from time to time. Your aging body will not only get the work it needs, it will thank you.
CHOOSE YOUR SPARRING PARTNERS WISELY
When I started boxing, I remember constantly getting into gym wars. I suffered cuts, bloody noses, and sustained unforgiving body shots. But I learned. And it made me better and better. I eventually starting dishing out the punishment instead of always receiving it. But the older you get, the less your body is able to sustain as much abuse. Instead of gym wars, pick sparring partners at your level that will challenge you, but not beat you to a pulp. If you get caught with a good shot and you end up staggered, your buddy should not finish you. Have your partner back off until you regain your composure Then get ready to get back to work.
If you spar people better than you, make sure they have good control and have a conversation with them. Have them touch you with a jab and body shots instead of ripping vicious shots to your skull. If you spar people with less ability as you, try new things with good control. Do not always resort to what you are successful at doing. If you are an inside fighter, try fighting on the outside and vice versa. Do things that make you uncomfortable instead of relying on your go to combination. Just because you are no longer engaging in gym wars does not mean you should not be improving your craft.
GO FROM THREE MINUTE ROUNDS TO TWO MINUTE ROUNDS
Boxing gyms typically have their timers set to three minute rounds with one minute rest in between. That usually makes the boxers pace themselves during sparring, pumping the jab and eventually firing off combinations as the rounds pass since you have time. But when you are in the Master's division, three minutes rounds go to two minute rounds or less. You no longer have the luxury of "time." You have to convince the judges that your are the one who should get their hand raised after a short amount of time.
If you believe that you will get in better shape by sticking to three minute rounds, so be it. But you will condition your body for the three minute rounds and the sense of urgency will not be there during the actual fight. If you still feel that your conditioning will not be up to par, then spar more two minute rounds and/or get busier during sparring.
Going down to two minute rounds is also safer. Three minutes is a long time. You get winded, your defense may lag, and you open yourself up to blows being landed. Sure, it's the same thing for two minute rounds but on a different level. You have thirty seconds or one minute rest between two minute rounds on a more frequent basis compared to three minute rounds where the risk for injury increases. With longer rounds, with less frequent rest times, comes more risk for bloody noses, cuts, hyper extended elbows, or concussions. Boxing is risky no matter how you slice it. You might as well minimize it as best as you can.
We all one day come to the realization that we are no longer young. We can no longer do the things we once did. But with age comes knowledge and experience. We old guys just have to work smarter not harder...and be in better shape than ever before.